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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Events in Modern Languages & Cultures

Dressing left: Fashion, Poetry & Revolution in the Russian Avant-Garde

27th January 2020, 17:00, A29, Dr James Rann (University of Glasgow)

The OWRI-funded ‘Body Text Nation’ research group invites you to this talk:

After exploding onto Russia’s literary scene in 1913, the Futurists became famous for experimental modernist poetry, provocative stunts and, latterly, a willingness to con-flate their own artistic rebellion with the political revolutions of 1917. One thread, as yet unpulled, that links these three aspects of Futurist identity was their rela-tionship to costume, clothes and fashion. This talk will investigate the ways in which key Futurists, like Vladimir Mayakovsky, Velimir Khlebnikov and Aleksei Kruchenykh, used clothes — both in their work and in their lives, both as metaphor and as material — to express their complex identities as poets and their utopian vision for language, culture and hu-manity itself. The talk will show what was revolutionary about Futurist fashion not only by locating it in the context of Russian debates about self-identity and tempo-rality, but also by showing its overlaps with and divergences from the clothes discourse of material-minded modernists elsewhere in Europe at its intersection with questions of gender, race and sexuality. Ultimately, the Futurists dressed not for the job they had — bohemian wordsmiths — but the job they wanted — agents of total eschatological transformation.

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